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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:26 am 
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Last minute plans came together and I am Tail of the Dragon bound!

Riding down Saturday morning, hope to be there in the early afternoon (250 miles from my neck of the woods), get in some runs of the Dragon and some of the other interesting asphalt in the area, sleep at the "Motorcycle Resort" and home Sunday-ish.

I'll post some pics upon my glorious return, but if any of you are in the neighborhood, swing on by...

This will be my first "touring" trip, and I'm sure I will have a number of lessons learned when I get home.

Killboy, here I come! (gotta get me a stuffed dog for that pic...)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:22 am 
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Wingscribe wrote:
Last minute plans came together and I am Tail of the Dragon bound!

Riding down Saturday morning, hope to be there in the early afternoon (250 miles from my neck of the woods), get in some runs of the Dragon and some of the other interesting asphalt in the area, sleep at the "Motorcycle Resort" and home Sunday-ish.

I'll post some pics upon my glorious return, but if any of you are in the neighborhood, swing on by...

This will be my first "touring" trip, and I'm sure I will have a number of lessons learned when I get home.

Killboy, here I come! (gotta get me a stuffed dog for that pic...)



Excellent

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:37 pm 
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Great Day in the Morning! Now that is a reason to be excited! Good for you! :P
How many of you will be riding down together or are you meeting folks there? The weather should be real nice/comfortable temperatures...finally!
Yes, Yes! A Must have Killboy Photo that we too can see and that You should Frame for your home's workshop/garage ;) as a momento..."Yeah man, I was there!"

:lol: Haha good thinking! a stuffed animal pup-pillion, that'll work!

Looking forward to your posting and pics.
8) Have Great Fun, stay hydrated, Ride Safely....it's all new2u and definitely twist....eeee

Yeah Baby...it's "The Dragon!"

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:47 am 
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I'm pulling a solo trip for this one...just me and the road...are those banjos I hear???

I've been there several times in the four-wheeled variety, lost of fun, many interesting people from all over the place.

This will be my rookie stay at the accommodations at the tail...half the price of a hotel an hour back towards home, how can I lose?

The schedule lists that the Volkswagen R32 and MR-2 Spyder groups will be in the area, but who knows who else might stop by?

Nest 24 hours will be a long wait, but soon enough I will be in the land of endless curves and no cell phone reception (really, are those banjos???)

Pics and a full report on my glorious return - might even get a new sticker for the scoot, but no promises...

Mike


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:24 pm 
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I understand this is some sort of road trip.....can you translate it for us limes on the other side of the pond....
Such as "tail of the dragon" & "motorcycle resort "

Sounds fun, enjoy....but just be careful when you do hear banjos.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:40 pm 
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AKA Deals Gap.. Route 129 in North Carolina USA. Its a very scenic mountainous , curvy , twisty, two lane road that is banked upwards on the tight curves..You have about 1/2 second between left and right curves. Its like a roller coaster but is a real highway. Motorcyclists from all over try to master the curves in as little time as possible. Many don't make it and end up seriously hurt with broken bones and more. There are establishments along the way where people leave their crutches when they heal. Its kind of an initiation to be in the broken bones club, and you made it down the tail of the dragon as its called.Crutches are strewn about everywhere as I recall. The cops tend to stay posted there nowadays to slow them down , but doesn't help much.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:58 pm 
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Wow...I want to come


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:15 pm 
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Want to know more? Check out the Dragon's website then start packing :D
http://tailofthedragon.com

...take a look at Killboy's great photography of rider's on Deals Gap, The Dragon: http://www.killboy.com/

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 5:36 pm 
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Richard wrote:
Wow...I want to come



I've got to admit I am actually envious. Borderline jealous.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:50 pm 
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Richard

My distinguished colleague, easyrider, said most of it as well or better than I could. I will only add that I am staying at a series of cinderblock rooms at the end of the route, at a place that can become deserted at dusk, in a rural area with no cellular (mobile across the pond) service. My references to banjos are from the file Deliverance, which is...is...well...yeah. Either see it or not.

There is also the tree of shame, where those who lose bodywork and other items from their vehicles nail them. Always a great photo op.

The first time I was there was in my 95 Miata (MX5 across the pond) and it was the first and only time that I recall getting carsick in the driver's seat.

There are that many curves.

Yes, fame has killed a lot of what makes this road a special thing, but there is also a special element that draws together al those who use dead dinosaurs as a source of amusement.

Getting late now, gotta get some rest before the longest ride of my life.

See y'all soon,

Mike


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 11:19 am 
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Grabbing a little lunch at the half way point. Turns out it was 350 miles, not 250 - no idea where that number came from...been a hard ride but seeing a lot I miss on the interstate...

Anyhow, burrito time!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 2:34 pm 
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What's another 100 miles? :lol:
Just Be safe Mike, you're doing fine. Energizer burrito works! ;)

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:24 pm 
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Wingscribe, sure to have missed it ...what bike you on?
Love the vids I have now seen on YouTube.....added to my bucket list


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 6:39 pm 
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Long Story Short: 782 Miles on the scoot in 36 hours, home safe and sound, really need a new seat.

Film at 11.

I'll get the whole poop to you all tomorrow...


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:29 pm 
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Safely Home already 8)
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So we be Waiting on pics (video?) and your experience

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:38 pm 
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I got on the road just before seven Saturday morning. I had already packed the night before: a change of clothes, shaving kit, and associated charges went into a dry bag that fit perfectly in the pet carrier. Other stuff: Camera, water, laptop were in a messenger bag I wore most of the way down. Hindsight, I should have put in all in the top case sooner, but I had the idea that having the camera closer at hand would make it easier to indulge my inner Ansel Adams.

Not so much.

The sun was just coming up as I put my goal into google maps (love AVOID FREEWAYS, essential for scooter touring, in my opinion) and saw that I made a huge miscalculation: I'd looked over the route many times, but concentrated on the time (8.5 hours) and though the distance was 250...farther than I'd even gone, but still inside of my comfort zone...

Nope, 350...oh well, what the hell am I going to do? Turn around in my driveway and head back in?

NO.

The sun was just coming up as I headed south, so I stopped for a shot in the dawn light...See, I'm taking pictures!

Attachment:
File comment: Sunrise!
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The route had me heading directly through Cincinnati to catch the Taylor-Southgate bridge over the Ohio River. This is the only non-interstate method of crossing on the route.

I made it there with a few missed turns - I don't have a Bluetooth headset for the phone, so it happens. The thing that really got to me was the temperature. The forecast was great: sunny and a high well into the seventies - perfect. I left the house with the mercury at 48 degrees, which was tolerable, but as the sun rose and I headed towards the equator, the temperature DROPPED!

I stopped just south of Newport KY to grab a coffee in the hopes of warming my chill bones. I had been on the road a little over an hour and the temperature dropped all the way to 42...what the hell?

Fortified, I headed on my merry way. Soon, the pothole-patched streets of Ohio and Northern Kentucky gave way to and endless sea of glass-smooth roads. Seriously, the whole way there and back, I could not have asked for a better road surface.

The sun went higher in the sky, the temperature improved, and I started to gobble up the pavement.

Farmland gave way to grazing land, which then gave way to horse country. There were quite a few walled and gated horse farms on the outskirts of Lexington. Several of them were for sale, if you have a couple million sitting around.

I thought the temperature would be too high to wear my touring pants - something I regretted that morning due to the chill. My wife refers to these as my birth control pants, and she has a point (maybe that was a factor in the decision as well). For protection, she gave me full permission to get some armored jeans on the way down there. I thought that would be a great stop over, get some new gear, and try it out on the Dragon.

Fate was not with me, it seemed...

I was due to hit Lexington, KY around ten in the morning. By then, the cycle shops would already be open, and I set up a few waypoints on the phone to get me there. Here we get into some problems with crowdsourcing location details.

First place - not even there, couldn't find it. It might have been 500 feet that-away, or it might have closed years ago - I was not going to wait and find out.

The second place? It was there, but it was also a bicycle shop.

Screw it, I'm outta here...

I gassed when I needed to, never getting too far below half a tank. Being out there on the state routes, you never really knew what was coming your way, so I thought it best to break frequently, gas up, drink water, stretch legs...all that sort of thing.

Starting to get hungry for lunch, I entered Somerset, KY. I'd given myself permission to be off the diet for the weekend, but I sure as hell wasn't going to waste excess calories on something I could get at home. I looked for something interesting, and ultimately hit up Mexican place. Turns out it was the same as the ones around me, and five miles down the road started some really cool roadside eateries.

Oh well, I do something really cool for dinner.

The further south I went, the smaller the roads became. Four lane divided became four lane, then three lane (the side with the uphill having passing) and then just two lanes. They also started to get a lot more curvy.

Oh yeah.

The crossing of Tennessee was largely a blur, an uncomfortable one. The road was still smooth as any I've had the pleasure to ride, but my butt was starting to talk to me. The problem was that lip that separates rider from passenger. If I was in the "correct" place on the seat, my knees started to talk to me about 30 minutes into each leg. They said they wanted to stretch out, so I put my boots in the "forward" position, and now my long legs have shoved my rear end into that lip.

It started to hurt, a lot. I don't know how you folks with the earlier models handle that form of torture...but I think Bikerbits is getting some of my hard-earned money.

Soon enough, I made my goal: Black Gold, Texas T...I mean, the Dragon!

It was not my first time on this rodeo, just my first one with only two of them wheel things. I'd been here several times in my GTI and Miata, but it had been a few years.

Things started to look familiar and pretty soon I was on State Route 129, on my way to that magic part of it. I started to see more and more motorcycles.

Right at the start of Deals Gap proper, local law enforcement was set up with several cruisers and a box truck. I guess if you are taking it too far, they will impound your bike right there, right then.

I swear the office with the RADAR gun dropped his aim and laughed as I cruised by...I was not worth their time.

So, it was time for my first run of the day...and I was right behind a Yukon...going 20...the whole way.

I could have stopped and waited for it to get farther away, but I thought it best to have a slow speed trial run. This is a very challenging piece of road, tight turns, rock walls, drop off with no guard rails. Taking it slow the first time?

Yes sir, thank you very much.

I was getting my grove on, carving up the corners at ten miles and hour, when opposing traffic hit.

Not literally, thankfully.

Coming the other way was a veritable wall of Golf Rs, Porches, and Mustangs - and every style of bike (other than scooter, of course). Everyone was driving at a high rate of speed, and a number of them had only a peripheral idea of where the lane markers were, and those who did were only taking them as a suggestion.

As stated earlier, I'd DRIVEN these roads before. If any of these asshats were me five years ago, then I guess I was paying off some sort of karmic debt.

It was scary, I have to say.

All too soon, it was over. Made my way past all the photographers: Killboy, 129 Slayer, and 129 Photos were all out in force, making me and my scooter out as stars on the red carpet.

Yeah, they are getting some more of my hard-earned money.

At the southern tip of the Dragon is the afore-mentioned "resort." I navigated a parking lot full of everything two and four wheeled you can imagine - even saw an Arial Atom - cool stuff.

Attachment:
File comment: Hustle and Bustle around the "resort."
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File comment: Ah, the tree of shame. She got nothing from me on this visit...
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I got checked in to the functional room, ditched what gear I could, and had a decision to make. I had to let home base know that I was not, in fact, road kibble - but there was no cell signal up there. A promised of free WiFi at the Killboy kiosk across the road turned out not to be true. So, I could head back the way I came an try for a signal at the start of the Dragon, or keep heading South on 129 and see what I could see.

I chose the latter, too many idiots out there - I can call them idiots because I was once one, get it?

Heading towards Robbinsville, I passed the Tapoco Lodge. It is an old industrial building that was turned into a bed and breakfast. I was not staying there, but could see that the restaurant overlooked the river, which was quite beautiful. I read somewhere that they were opening up the damn for a period of time, bringing the kayakers and sight-seekers.

Attachment:
File comment: Following the River.
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Ten miles following this river, I finally got a signal. I checked in with the boss, assured her I was alive, then decided to head back and get a seat by the river.

The meal was good, not great, but the view, oh my goodness. I chatted up the only other cyclist in the place (There were 2 bikes and about 50 Subarus with kayaks on top in the parking lot) while I had some appetizers the server recommended. They were really backed up on the pizzas (their trademark) and I wanted to get back to the room for a bit before sunset.

Attachment:
File comment: Dinner and a Show...
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Back at the "resort" I chatted up some of the other folks staying the night. Earlier in the day, the mass crowds did not seem interested in any conversation, running to and fro, or maybe just overcome with the place in general. Now that things were cooling off, most of the day-trippers has moved on, and I started to have the same conversation several times.

"Yes, it's a scooter."

"Yes, I rode it all the way here. 350 miles."

"90 Miles per gallon, 64 miles per hour."

Checking my camera, I headed to the overlook to catch the last sun of the day.

With a lot less traffic and no rolling roadblock before me, I could really enjoy the ride this time. The overlook is about 75% towards the north side of the path - good enough for me.

I was riding a pretty solid seven-tenths up there. I would get the bike up to maybe forty between curves, then brake again and lean, lean for all I'm worth.

Where were the paparazzi when I needed them? I’m actually doing it now…

At the overlook, mother nature conspired against me, the sun was behind some trees...oh well, I tried to get some good shots and chatted it up with some fellow folks who stopped to smell the roses. One of them thanked me gratefully for letting his group by on the lower portion of 129 (I let a number of cars and bikes by - there was no way I could begin to keep up, and I didn't want anyone breathing down my neck). Apparently, such courtesy is uncommon down there, and several people thanked me over the course of the night.

It was getting on sunset and I had some beer waiting for me back at the room. One rule I shared with everyone there: once you crack the first one, you are done for the night - so that was not a problem.

Riding back, I stopped at a turnoff and did managed to get that sunset shot I was jonesing for. You can't tell, but I had to lay down in the gutter on the other side of the road...I suffer for my art...

Attachment:
File comment: Sunset!
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Back at the ranch and it was, indeed Miller time (or whatever time was advertised on the microbrew lager I picked up at the attached gift ship). I stayed up too late solving the world's problems with the assembled cyclists. They thought I was absolutely insane to have ridden that far on a damn scooter, and I thought most of them were insane for trailering such great bikes on the Interstate.

To each their own, that's why there are different flavors of ice cream.

I packed it in around midnight, getting sleepy and out of beer. Our four-wheeled brethren continued to run the gap throughout the night, but I was too damn tired to care about it.

I awoke at 7:15 wishing I had traded a few of those beers for water, but what can you do. Grabbing a quick shower, I hit the Dragon for the fourth and final time (2 in 2 out). It took 20 miles to get reception, so I assured the family that I was all right, on the way, and would meet them at my daughter's volleyball game at 5:00 that night.

I had a goal, and about an hour of wiggle room. Figured that would be lunch and a great many five minute breaks, and my rear end was still tender from the previous day (of riding...your mind is in the gutter).

Normally, the way back on a trip like this is all about getting across the miles ad quickly as possible. Forget fun, you've already had it and now you have to get someplace so hurry-hurry-hurry!

Sometimes, not having the options is nice.

I took an alternate route back, through Mount Vernon and Berea, and again just enjoyed the hell out of the open road and the scenery that surrounded it. I was bogged down in some of the towns along the route, but once out of them it was clear sailing and WOT all the way. I would hit the speed limiter on the downhill sections, back off, and then WOT again as it all curved back uphill.

Tennessee was a blur, and Kentucky seemed just a lunch stop. I was not hurrying, however, just taking it all in.

Back through Newport, across the Ohio River, through downtown Cincinnati.

I made it to her game fifteen minutes early. My wife had just parked the van and my parents pulled in right behind me. It was a close to a heros welcome as I was going go get.

As said and done, I rode 788 miles (I made another arithmetical error in the above post), averaged right at 90 miles per gallon, and had about 10,000 smiles.

There is something to this touring thing, I just need to get me a better seat and all will be neat! Gotta love this view:

Attachment:
File comment: Just my contribution to reduce the insect populations of the southern states. Y'all are welcome.
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IMG_3460.jpg [ 69.32 KiB | Viewed 2803 times ]


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:33 pm 
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Fantastic write up


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:18 pm 
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And there was me wondering if I could manage a 250 round trip, lol.

Brilliant inspirational thread. Really enjoyed reading that, thanks.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:37 pm 
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That looks like a great trip - thanks for the writeup! Unfortunately for me it's over 600 miles one way to get tbere from Orlando - and that's on the interstate :(

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 4:26 pm 
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Longest post ever!

Enjoy all of it.

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